Clay Buchholz has the capability of being both dazzlingly effective and maddeningly ineffective. Fortunately for the Boston Red Sox, Wednesday night saw a healthy sampling of the former.
Entering the night with a brutal 0-3 record and a 6.51 ERA, the righthander appeared on track for another underwhelming start. He surrendered four hard-hit balls in the first inning, one of which was a two-run bomb by Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu. He walked the leadoff man in the second inning and had allowed four baserunners through the first two innings.
But that’s when Buchholz flipped the switch. Digging deep into his healthy arsenal of pitches, the 31-year-old retired 16 of the final 17 White Sox batters he faced, finishing the night with just three hits allowed over seven innings to pick up his first win of 2016.
“I think the most encouraging thing was, after a couple of hard-hit balls early on, he still was on the attack mode,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Buchholz, as aired on NESN’s “Extra Innings Live.” “… I thought he used his curveball (Wednesday) night, particularly very effective(ly), and kept (the White Sox) off stride enough. On a night when we could use a quality start, he gave it to us.”
It was Farrell who called out Buchholz on Sunday, telling reporters without prompt that he needed to “get Clay going.” It appears that message reached Buchholz, who showed some fortitude Wednesday by buckling down after two rocky innings. He only got stronger as his outing progressed, retiring the final 10 batters he faced and setting four of those batters down via strikeout.
Of course, every big-league pitcher is capable of a strong outing, and the Red Sox will need to see a few more performances like Wednesday night’s before they place more faith in their veteran starter. No one knows this more than Buchholz himself.
“I think everybody would be lying if they said that you didn’t see your numbers,” Buchholz said after the game, as seen on NESN. “You see them every day. 0-3 with a (6.51 ERA), that’s obviously not where you want to be.”
That said, the two-time All-Star’s turnaround has to start somewhere. So, why not with a strong outing against the team with the American League’s best record?
“It takes a while to get those numbers back to where you want them,” Buchholz said. “So, you’ve just got to do it pitch-by-pitch and not really worry about it. But it definitely feels good after the fact, that hopefully I can build off this start and move forward.”
Thumbnail photo via Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports Images